Would you pay extra at parks with rhinos?

2017-09-05 15:30 - Elise Tempelhoff
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Cape Town - Visitors to Kruger and other national parks where rhinos roam might have to start paying an extra fee to help SANParks with the costs of their anti-poaching initiatives.

Ike Phaahla, spokesperson for SANParks, said on Monday that the costs to protect South Africa's natural resources against poaching has increased by 334% since 2008.

"This is not sustainable, thus the tourism research unit at SANParks is currently busy conducting a survey among visitors about the possibility of such a fee."

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He said 5 000 people have already filled in the questionnaire. The results will be studied and will help SANParks' board and executive management make a decision.

Only visitors that stayed overnight in one of the parks and those that hold Wildcards are being asked to take part in the survey.

"It's fact that there is immense pressure on our natural resources. Two of the Big Five that attract tourists to South Africa, and that's necessary for the functionality of ecosystems, are being targeted by criminal elements."

This is why the research unit suggested the fee, said Phaahla.

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According to a statement from SANParks, it still receives financial help from the government, various donors, NGOs and the Honorary Rangers.

"It's a shame, but most of the money raised by various organisations doesn't reach the people on the ground."

"Lots of money is needed for the replacement and upkeep of equipment, as well as operational costs like anti-poaching equipment."

One possibility of generating more money is to place an anti-poaching fee on top of the conservation fee for visitors to parks with rhinos.

The money will then be allocated to a specific project code for anti-poaching initiatives.

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"We trust that charging this fee will be temporary and will be removed once crime against wildlife and the environment has come under control."

SANParks will release the results of the survey once the board and executive management have made a decision, said Phaahla.

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